About a year ago, I was at home packing up the last of my things. My life for the next 18 months was going to be packed away into brown boxes, and placed in a storage unit. Everything was in order. My enrollment at BYU-Idaho was deferred, my facebook account was closed, and I had traded in my favorite red ballet flats for black, sturdy walking shoes. I had been called by a Prophet of God to labor in the Montana Billings Mission. The upcoming 18 months were to be completely foreign to me. I didn't know what to expect, and quite frankly, I was terrified.
It was a cold and drizzly day in Ferndale, and my outlook on my future was beginning to look about as dismal. As I methodically packed away my favorite pair of jeans, my favorite red shoes, and my red Scottish plaid blazer, I started to feel overwhelmed with the immensity of everything that was before me. I would be trading in my sundresses for mid calf skirts, and my Friday night activities for proselyting. It was official. I was going to be a missionary. Suddenly, in a moment of utter selfishness, tears welled up in my eyes as I began to contemplate everything I was "giving up" for Montana, but ultimately for the Lord. How could he ask me to do this? Put my life on hold for a year and half? Put off my education? Say goodbye to a boy I very much loved? Leave dear friends behind with the potential of never seeing them again? Give up any kind of freedom, and fun? Not see my family, my best friends for 18 months? It was almost too much to bear. I didn't think I could do it. I began to pray. "Heavenly Father, really? Is this really what you want me to do?" The answer for the 176th time was, "Yes."
So I went. I left. Three weeks later, I was sitting in the MTC. That was the roller coaster ride of all roller coaster rides. But I found my testimony. I came to know that truly, we have a prophet on the earth today. A real live prophet. I came to know that Joseph Smith really did, in all actuality see God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. It really happened. It was all true. Everything I thought I knew I came to really know. Then it was time to come to Montana. The real test of faith was about to begin.
A year later, here I am. I have had ups and downs; highs and lows. I have had the purest joys, and the deepest sorrows. I have gone to bed, so excited for the alarm to go off at 6:30 AM to get to do it all over again. I have gone to bed, feeling the most utter despair imaginable, unsure if I could go on. Yet, that Montana sun always rises. Each day is a new day filled with promise. The promise that somewhere out there, someone is searching for the truth. God has entrusted his missionaries to be the bearers of that truth.
Suddenly a year later, the reality of my situation hit me. I had been blessed more abundantly than I could have ever imagined. Looking back on that drizzly day last January when I thought I was so nobly "giving up" my life, I could never have imagined how much I would gain. Each and every day, as a missionary for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ I feel eternally indebted to him. I can never repay the Lord for what He has done for me as I've served in Montana.
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." (Matthew 19:29)
This took on new meaning. The loudest songs of praise to the most high God could not fully encompass my gratitude. In moments of despair or discouragement I think of my Savior. He is the reason I am here. He has given me more than I could have ever hoped to gain. I testify that He lives. I testify that He will come again. I know that my Redeemer lives.